Software services giant Wipro Ltd said on Thursday founder Azim Premji will retire next month and his son and chief strategy officer Rishad Premji will take over as the company’s new executive chairman.
Rishad will take over as chairman after Azim Premji completes his term on July 30, the company said in a statement. Rishad has been named chairman for five years until July 2024.
Azim Premji, who is also managing director, will remain on the Wipro board as a non-executive director and founder chairman. Premji led Wipro for 53 years and transformed it from a cooking oil maker to one of India's biggest technologies companies,
Wipro also said its board decided to re-designate CEO Abidali Z. Neemuchwala as CEO and managing director.
These changes will be effective July 31, subject to shareholder approval, the company said.
Rishad, the elder son of the billionaire Premji, had joined Wipro in 2007 and was appointed to the board in 2015.
Prior to joining Wipro, Rishad worked with Bain & Co in London and had also been associated with GE Capital in the US. He did his BA in Economics from Wesleyan University and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
As the chief strategy officer, he led Wipro’s M&A strategy and conceptualised Wipro Ventures, a $100 million fund to invest in startups developing new-generation technologies.
Ashok S. Ganguly, chairman of the Wipro board’s governance, nomination and compensation committee, said Rishad’s understanding of the technology industry, strong strategic orientation and leadership experience make him the right person to guide Wipro. “He is also best positioned to represent the interests and fundamental social purpose of the largest shareholder of Wipro,” Ganguly said.
Azim Premji, who was born in July 1945 and took over the reins of Wipro in the 1960s, and his related entities control nearly 74% of Wipro. But the billionaire has committed a significant portion of his wealth to charity.
In March, Premji allocated economic benefits from nearly 34% of the company’s shares held by entities that he controls to philanthropy, the Azim Premji Foundation said at the time.
“As I look into the future, I plan to devote more time to focus on our philanthropic activities,” he said on Thursday.